You Must Be This Tall to Ride…

Writing Through Anxiety Blog Series #2

There are plenty of reasons I’m not too fond of rollercoasters: the jerking motion, free-falling motion, the tight grip on the handles, the stomach in your throat feeling, and plenty more. It’s never been exhilarating for me. I have even tried to find joy in them. The stress release of screaming your brains out without judgment. The laughter of riders afterward. The wind in your hair. While these are all positives for many, the negative feelings far outweigh the positives. Hell, most of the time, I was never tall enough to ride the rollercoasters, but I did try a few, and it was enough to know that it wasn’t for me. Right now in my life, this journey of battling anxiety with panic disorder is one big rollercoaster ride, and I want off.

These last two weeks have been challenging. One day I will feel like my healthy self, full of peace, calm, and lightness. The next day, my body twitches and tremors, my stomach churns, and my head either hurts or is dizzy. It’s almost four weeks since I started meds, and I can’t tell if they are working or not. I’m guessing they are because the anxiety hasn’t spiraled/escalated into a panic. To me, these little moments are progressing me toward steady days.

Like many others, I’m doing my fair share, probably too obsessively, of research on how to hold down a job with anxiety and panic disorder. I’m trying new breathing techniques, cold showers, long walks, sensory-type grounding practices, cognitive behavior therapy, hypnotherapy, and more. Intellectually, I know it will be a long process to get well, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get frustrated, annoyed, or impatient by how slow this is taking.

So as I continue on this rollercoaster, I am trying my hardest to give myself some grace on the challenging days. My husband is more patient with me than I am on those days. He’s my rock and my support, and I mean that as literally as possible. He truly holds me up when my legs want to give out. He holds my hand when he senses my fear and reassures my soul that I am not alone. When he wraps me in his arms tightly, it eases my rapid heartbeat into a slow thump. On days when I feel strong and at peace, I try to push past my comfort zone and dip my toes in the proverbial waters to see how my body will react.

As I wrestle with all these physical reactions to the world around me, I remind myself that I need to figure out what to do with my teaching career. Right now, it’s on hold in the infamous FMLA status, but even that requires an end date. I want to go back, but it’s hard putting on a mask of bravery when my body is freaking out on the inside. My doctor and therapist advise me that I shouldn’t decide while feeling this way. Unfortunately, it feels like unfinished business. Plus, there’s the weight of knowing how much extra work it is putting on your colleagues.

Writing through all this has been helpful and feels substantial. I wish I were well enough to share with my students just how important it is to write your way through the ups and downs, twists and turns, and the backward motion of the rollercoaster. I also wish I was not tall enough to ride this ride, but there is a purpose, and I’m determined to find the purpose of this journey.

Action Step: I encourage you to leave a comment and share your story with me. I am a firm believer that we can never heal in isolation. We heal in our community. I urge you to find your community if you struggle with mental health. It doesn’t need to be a large group but find your people.

I count my blessings for my community of supporters. Without their love, patience, and support, I would be lost and lonely. Like my motto, “Writing is a life-long journey meant to be shared,” I can now confidently say the same about healing my anxiety ~ it may be a life-long journey, but I’m grateful I can share it with you and those around me.

Disclaimer: This is by no means therapy or professional advice. This blog series is my narrative, my journey, that I am sharing with you in hopes of encouraging you to begin healing your anxiety.

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Writer. Teacher. Water, tea, & dark chocolate sustain me. I have an addiction to journals and pens. I love hiking and spending as much time as possible with family and friends. "If you are not failing, you're not trying."

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